A few weeks back, I’d been having some seriously dodgy stomach issues throughout the day. Initially, I was convinced I was lactose intolerant or some other lame shizney like IBS. After powering through an extra-long day of back-to-back meetings, I was on soft drinks deep into the evening – clearly a sign something was amiss.
As I was leaving one of our hotspots to chill for a bit, my stomach started violently cramping and all I could do was clutch my stomach and growl a bit. The manger on duty spotted me and suggested it sounded like appendicitis and I should go straight to the hospital to get it checked out.
Getting to my room, I considered trying to sleep it off before the general feeling of discomfort was again interrupted by brutally sharp stabbing pains. Fuck it - something’s not right – maybe I should go and get it checked out.
Shortly after arriving at the NMC Hospital in Dubai’s Investment Park area, they had me jacked up to a drip and were busy pumping a clear liquid deep into my veins. They said it would help with the pain... disappointingly, this turned out to be paracetamol; don’t they know who the fuck I am? I need something far more hardcore than some cheap over-the-counter prescription. I want the good shit. “No morphine then?” I quipped.
Next up were blood tests where they also suspected it may be an appendix issue. My friends may have potentially / and overly dramatically saved my life here I thought. After a few ultra-scans and a more daunting CT scan, we can all safely confirm I’m definitely not pregnant; what a relief all round. I would have been stumped as to who the father was. On the way back from the tests I walked past an ATM machine in the hallway and figured I could well be using that at some point (thankfully the insurance had me covered).
Turns out I am indeed, alas, simply getting old. I have digestive issues and one that I can’t say or spell that easily: diverticulitis. Thirty-odd years of not enough fruit and vege is starting to catch up on me. More fibre, more water, more exercise and less coffee are the immediate areas for improvement.
Staying dripped-up for 72 hours in a hospital and I was bored senseless - how anyone copes with long stints in the hospital is completely beyond me. To pop out for a fag was a chore in itself: I had to ring the bell; ask the nurse for permission to un-drip me. She had to get a security guard to wheel me downstairs - I could totally walk but hospital policy - in my dodgy hospital-issued PJs. All that to puff away under the anxious stare of a guard who clearly didn’t have time for my lousy fag breaks.
During one such trip, I was speaking to a lovely couple from the Seychelles, who mentioned they were there because their 8-year-old princess (Effie) has stage 3 cancer. Jesus fucking Christ! There was me feeling sorry for myself and thinking I’d had a shit day. The father (Dory) told me when she recovers – and inshallah she will – he told her she "can have anything she wants", all going well this would be around December time. How they remained so calm, so positive, and so totally grateful was difficult for me to grasp.
Our brief meeting and their dire tale broke my heart and got me thinking I should do something special for them, flowers, a card, a cuddly toy maybe? Literally anything really. I didn’t even get the parents' name presuming I’d see them again before I left.
Since regaining my 'freedom' and accruing some pokey antibiotics I mentioned little Effie's heroic tale to my big boss Paul Evans. I asked if he could help arrange swimming with the dolphins in the Atlantis Hotel on the Palm, a day at the water park, and perhaps a couple of evenings of complimentary food and drinks at some of our family-friendly restaurants in the city. He didn’t hesitate and said he would help. Another good friend of mine (Jono) works for Jumeriah Group and he runs more than 10 F&B outlets in the city, he also said anything they wanted at his places he would help arrange too. I also reached out to - and secured - day passes for Legoland Dubai and the Motiongate Theme Park for the family too.
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So a random twist of fate & a hospital visit lead me to meet the bravest 8-year-old princess 👑 I’ve ever met. Managed to treat Princess 👑 Effie and her Mum and Dad to an amazing 🤩 dinner 🥘 in @asiaasiadubai. A truly remarkable family still smiling through such challenging times... #GetWellSoonEffie
This year has been shocking for us all. The majority of us, thankfully, haven’t had to have the added trauma of deaths – or near-death experiences of loved ones, and my heart goes out to anybody who has suffered that extra heavy and painful burden. I sadly know of a few other people close to me who have experienced losses unimaginable.
Personally, I’m remaining grateful for my circumstances, the health and well-being of my loved ones, and the fact I’ve miraculously managed to hang on to my career – for now anyway.